Will the First Amendment Save Assange? theamericanconservative.com

Peter Van Buren, author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People,

The allegations stem from 2010 when WikiLeaks released half a million classified documents, focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, that were leaked to the site by Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, an Army intel analyst. Included in the leak was video from Iraq showing American helicopters gunning down Iraqi civilians, later dramatized in the film Incident in New Baghdad. Assange’s legal team argues the case is a politically motivated form of state retaliation for embarrassing the United States.

Following charges by the U.S. government, Assange was granted asylum for seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange was then arrested by British authorities for skipping bail, and has spent the last five years in a dank British prison fighting extradition to the United States. His spouse calls it “punishment by process.” […]

Of the three conditions, the key issue is whether or not Julian Assange can raise an effective First Amendment defense against the Espionage Act. Could Assange claim, for example, that his right to publish the leaked materials was protected as a publisher and journalist under the First Amendment, in the public interest?

The Justice Department previously told a British court the First Amendment doesn’t apply to anyone “in relation to publication of illegally obtained national defense information giving the names of innocent sources to their grave and imminent risk of harm.” Use of a 1A public interest defense by Chelsea Manning was blocked and her attempts to speak to the American people directly were stymied by seeing her entire trial classified. […]

The British court needs to carefully weigh any faux U.S. promises of 1A rights for Assange, and ask itself instead: is he being singled out for punishment, criminalizing journalism? President Joe Biden is already considering an Australian government request to drop Julian Assange’s charges. The British court should stay the extradition and ultimately release Assange for doing nothing but what the New York Times and others have done before him. Läs artikel